New To Ski

How Do Ski Booster Straps Really Work? (& Should You Use One?)

by Simon Knott | Published: November 8th, 2022
pink jacket

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Wearing snug and well-fitting ski boots can transform the way you ski. The movements of your legs are translated through the boots directly down into the skis. But what extra can you do to improve the performance of your boots?

Using booster straps, the lateral movement of the boot is restrained, but a little forward and backward movement is enabled. The more agile boot gives better control and responsiveness of the ski, which allows faster and tighter turning.

Ski boots are one of the most important elements of skiing equipment that serve two primary functions. Firstly, they protect and keep your feet and ankles warm and comfortable under very hostile conditions.

Secondly, they act as the interface between your lower feet and the skis so that when you make a movement with your foot and ankle it is carried straight through to the ski.

Key Takeaway: Ski boot design has come on in leaps and bounds over the decades so that it’s now often possible to rent a pair of ski boots off the shelf, which are both comfortable and effective for skiing.

A Good Fit Is A Compromise Between Comfort and Performance

Keystone United States
Photo by James licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the most difficult compromises ski boots must perform is the balance between comfort and restraining the foot and ankle, so that there is little room for movement. Restraining the foot and ankle in this way ensures that any foot movement is immediately translated to action on the ski, with no slack in the transfer.

Ski boot design has evolved so that the foot is gently immobilized with two buckles or clasps, which pull together the two plastic panels covering the foot section.

On the ankle and lower leg, two or three further buckles are used to tighten the outer shell and inner liner so that the lower leg is restrained, without causing pain or restricting blood flow.

At the top of the boot, most manufacturers also include a power strap, which is made of plastic fabric with a Velcro fitting on one end. By feeding the strap through an eye it can be tightened around the top section of the boot to provide extra restraint.

An Alternative To The Fixed Power Strap

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The fabric of the power strap isn’t elastic, so when force is applied with the movement of the leg the power strap doesn’t give. Ex-ski coach and Aerospace Engineering graduate, Ray Fougere, had plenty of time to observe his ski students and concluded that ski boots could be much more efficient.

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He realized that if the sides of the boots could be held rigid against lateral forces, such as when the ski goes over onto its edge, while at the same time being more elastic when pressure was applied forward and backward, then the boots would be that much more controllable.

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Eventually, his dream was realized in 1999 when he invented the booster strap. His strap replaces the power strap at the top of the boot and maximizes the ski boot’s performance.

This more agile boot gives better control over the ski, which enables faster and tighter turning. In addition, users experience better comfort, as all the air between the shin and the tongue of the boot is squeezed out giving a snug fit.

Tip: The fact that 80% of Olympic skiers now use booster straps goes a long way to proving their effectiveness.

How Does The Booster Strap Work?

WinterPark

The booster strap is attached to the back of the ski boot with screws. The main strap of the booster is elastic, and it is placed against the tongue of the inner liner and then follows around the back of the boot.

When the foot is in the boot the booster can be tensioned to create a snug fit between the leg and the ski boot. Skiers can alter the tension of the booster strap so that if it is tight, it will produce a very responsive reaction and vice versa.

Any extra space around the top of the boot and the leg is squeezed out to produce a very responsive feel. In this way, as you push your shin forward against the front of the boot as you begin a turn the movement will be transferred more quickly, giving much more responsive cornering.

How Is The Booster Strap Different From Power Straps?

A power strap on a ski boot is a passive device. Once you adjust the tension of the power strap and fix it in place with Velcro, it will stay in the same position and tension regardless of the skier’s movements.

Key Takeaway: There is no gift or flexibility in the fabric of a power strap. However, a booster strap has better flexibility during forward and backward maneuvers but retains good rigidity to lateral forces. This makes it much more dynamic and responsive compared to the power strap.

How Do You Fit Booster Straps?

Booster straps are an inexpensive add-on, which you can easily attach to your ski boots. The process for attaching booster straps is as follows:

  1. Remove the original power strap from your boots. They are often held in place by two allen keys, which just need to be unscrewed.
  2. Align the booster strap correctly on the back of the boot. Close all the buckles on the boot and locate the booster strap around the top of the boot, so it sits flat.
  3. Push a hole through the middle of the booster strap and insert an allen screw.
  4. Attach the allen screw to the back of the boot and then attach the second allen screw if you’re using one.
  5. Tension up the booster strap and check it’s working okay.
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Benefits of Booster Straps

Athlete's Skier's Boots

As the leg is restrained much more effectively using the booster strap any leg movements will be transferred much more directly and responsively to the skis. In addition, booster straps offer several other benefits:

Your skiing will be improved giving faster and more responsive turns. The responsiveness of the booster strap fabric. As your leg and foot are well restrained your boot will be much more comfortable over longer periods.

If your ski boots are too large or there is too much movement in the front of the boot you can experience shin bang. This is where the shin repeatedly strikes the front of the ski boot causing painful injury. When correctly mobilized with the booster strap, shin bang will be a thing of the past.

The booster strap tension can be adjusted according to your ability. An expert will profit from the agile responsiveness of a tighter booster strap, while an intermediate skier will find a bit less responsiveness more agreeable.

Should You Get a Booster Strap?

Anthony Lakes

Booster straps have now been on the market for nearly 25 years and while opinion is still occasionally split on their usefulness many skiers have become satisfied customers.

It makes sense that restraining the top part of the boot against the leg is going to aid leverage when the skier executes a maneuver. Compared to some items of skiing equipment the cost of buying and installing your own booster straps is relatively inexpensive.

FAQs

Will the Booster help my shin bang?

Yes. The elastic of the Booster acts to contain your ankle as a spring or cushion preventing the shim from banging against the front of the boot.

Is the Booster Strap for racers and experts only?

No. The Booster helps secure your leg to the boot in a positive fashion which is needed by all skiers and for that matter all movement. Casual sports enthusiasts need properly fitting snug footwear to enjoy their sport.

How do you change the stiffness of the booster?

Answer- You adjust the stiffness of the Booster by stretching the elastic webbing to the desired tension for your strength and ability.

Verbier Resort

Do I need to still use my old power strap?

No. The Booster is elastic and the Velcro strap is non-elastic. There is never a time you would need both at the same time.

Why do you recommend putting the booster against the tongue?

When the Booster is routed against the tongue and outside the plastic in the back and the elastic is then stretched your leg is essentially pulled to the back of the boot. This eliminates all the extra space at the boot top without stiffening the boot.

With no extra space, any movement of your leg forward a load is immediately transmitted through the boot to the ski giving an instantaneous response.

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NewToSki.com is where over 1 million people a year come to learn more about skiing. I share everything I wish someone had told me when I was learning to ski. My name is Simon & I've been skiing since 2005. This winter, our family is taking a 3-month camper ski trip across the Alps. If you enjoy our articles, please join the free email club. We'd love to have you.
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